I do not believe I came up with the concept of urgency in a main conflict, but I cannot find the original source, so I will just define it here.
When I create and develop a main conflict (I am a plotter, meaning I plan out my novel prior to writing them), I make sure it has several key traits. One of those traits is urgency; that is, the thing keeping the protagonist from sitting around twiddling their thumbs because they have all the time in the world to solve the main conflict. With urgency in place, they do not have all the time in the world. They should, in fact, have very little time indeed, if any at all. This pressures them to solve the main problem/conflict, and that pressure in turn generates additional tension for the reader.
I believe every main conflict should have at least some amount of urgency, some reason that the character has to solve it now rather than later. Whether or not this is true, is not the question. The question is as follows:
Question: Are there any methods/formulas/conventions/common practices for creating urgency? I frequently find myself stuck trying to create urgency, and this has led me to wonder if there are some conventions for creating it that I am not aware of.
Note: I'm not looking for how to write urgency. I'm looking for what causes that urgency. It take many forms, so I'm looking for a formula or common practice that will enable me to easily add urgency to any situation.
Examples of urgency:
Main Problem: The bomb must be defused.
Urgency: The bomb is activated, and the timer is going down. The bomb has to be defused NOW!
Main Problem: We need to find a way out of the maze.
Urgency: ...And we're being chased by monsters. We need to get out NOW!
And one with a more traditional conflict rather than simply a passing problem:
Main Conflict: Joe needs to find a way to tell Jim he's sorry for what happened.
Urgency: Jim is leaving the country in a week. Joe has to find a way to tell him soon.
Google searches for 'urgency' yield either nothing, or articles that use the term 'urgency' in place of 'conflict.'